Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Meow! A Kitty-Cat Storytime

I love cats (don't most of us?) and every time I plan this theme it gives me great pleasure selecting titles. Except that there are so many good titles it is difficult to select the best of the best.

Planning this storytime also required a little bit of forethought : being the first storytime in the school year I had to remind myself to "dumb down" storytime, something we often need to do when summer ends and all our 5-year-olds go off to kindergarten and our 4-year-olds go off to preschool. Instant toddler storytime!

I love to introduce the kids to my cats, mostly because they have a great backstory. My first cat was found in a box in the road as a 3-week-old kitten. We took him in but he was such a ferociously playful guy that we needed to get him a playmate - hence, our acquiring our second cat.

Just because, here they are ...
Aren't they beautiful? Of course I'm biased ...

Anyway, these are the books that we read today. I did include one long-ish book simply because I could not resist the title where a black cat and a white cat make orange kittens.

I made a flannel of a draw-and-tell story a few years ago titled "Poppa Pugleasee" ... not sure if I prefer this as a flannel or draw-and-tell, but here is the flannel version :

Poppa Pugleasee is round and fat
With two pointy ears and little black hat
He has circles for eyes and a triangle nose
and very sharp claws at the end of his toes
His little pink tongue is kind of funny
And he eats too much by the look of his tummy
He wags his tail when I give him a pat
I love Poppa Pugleasee because he’s my….CAT!

I guess this flannel kitty-cat is cute ...

My library still carries the old book props in our shared storytime collection. The one for Pat Thomson's "Drat That Fat Cat!" is pretty good ... as you tell the story, each animal gets swallowed by the fat cat ... but in a transparent body so kids can see what's going on inside.

Our early literacy tip for the day was to read together -- to that end, I created this take-home activity sheet for kids to do at home reinforcing this skill.
for at-home use only

Friday, September 2, 2016

Picnic with the Librarian!

At the end of each summer I try to find a fun way to say "goodbye and good luck" too all my storytime attendees who will be starting kindergarten in the fall. This year I decided to host an outdoor "picnic" storytime. This is not an original idea, having been hosted by my colleagues many times in the past. For me, however, this was my first time ...

We were blessed with absolutely STUNNING weather -- blue sky, temps in the high-60s, low-70s, a slight breeze and NO MOSQUITOES (amazing for Minnesota).

The grass was, naturally, damp due to morning dew so I did bring a tarp to place underneath my picnic blanket :

I have a nice, large wicker picnic blanket at home that I brought in not only to carry snacks that I planned to share with my storytime attendees, but to use as a prop for the Raffi song "Goin' On A Picnic" (can be found here : Goin' on a Picnic)

However ... instead of pulling out sandwiches, lemonade and cookies from my picnic basket, I pulled out a hammer, wrapping paper, a stapler, an extension cord, a Ping-Pong paddle and a license plate. After deciding that we didn't need those items for a picnic, we substituted with things that kids thought we *did* need to have at a picnic (including ice cream which always makes me kind of scratch my head ... how does that work??). I give my co-worker Tami Lee full credit for this idea.

Because storytime was being held outside and not only does the voice not carry as well outdoors but kids are less likely to have long attention spans, I only shared one "regular" book at this storytime. My choice for this event was "Good News, Bad News" by Jeff Mack.

Since the only text in this book are these two phrases, it was easy to keep the attendees' attention and we talked a lot about what they were seeing in the pictures. This page spread is a perfect example -- even more so since the tree we were sitting under was a crabapple tree :

I shared the fingerplay/rhyme "Five Hungry Ants" :

Five hungry ants were marching in a line
Looking for a picnic where they could dine.
They marched upon the salad,
They marched upon the cake,
They marched upon the pepper ...
ahh ... ahhh ... AH-CHOO!!!!!
What a mistake!

I sing this fingerplay to the tune of "Six Little Ducks" and speak the "what a mistake!" line.
To make this more visually appealing, I made five felt ants that I used on a fingerpuppet mitt, and had actual salad, cake (cupcakes) and pepper on a tray that my little ants "walked" over. Each sneeze resulted in an ant being tossed over my back. What a hoot.

We ended storytime attempting to play "Duck, Duck, Grey Duck" (in Minnesota, you have to use "Grey Duck" -- "Goose" just doesn't cut it in this state ...) but surprisingly a lot of the kids didn't really know how to play it. I was "it" four times and allowed each kid I selected to catch me, just so it was fair.

After storytime I had snacks plus bubbles and sidewalk chalk available for play.
Overall, this was a glorious storytime ... wish they could all be outside on beautiful days!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Story Trail Partnership & Process

In this post I'll be discussing the specifics of the latest partnership between my library and the local parks & recreation department to put on a story walk (in this case re-named Story Trail).

Our parks and recreation department contacted us over the winter inquiring about ways in which we, the library, could partner with their department. One of the ideas we came up with was installing a story walk type program in three of the local county parks during the upcoming months -- May, July and August. Each program would run for just over a week (10 days).

I took a tour of all the parks in the county to select which ones would work best for this program. High on my list of priorities was that the park have paved trails to be accessible by all (wheelchairs, walkers and strollers). Some county parks did not have paved trails. Additionally, I wanted to be sure the parks selected had manageable enough loops for the story trail to work. Considering our target age was 5 and under I didn't want any looped trail to be more than a mile since that would be too long for 3-and-4-year-olds.

Then I selected the books that we would display on these three story trails (three separate books). Again, I took into consideration the population and dynamic of each individual park.

The first park selected is one in a highly populated, diverse population. I wanted to choose a book that did not require a lot of reading, and more important, not a lot of reading in English. The book ideally would be one that could be understood without much reading at all.

For this story walk I selected "From Head to Toe" by Eric Carle.
This book was then purchased in big book format. I purchased three copies, two for the actual program and one held in reserve in case repairs were necessary.

I then took the book apart (literally) with a staple remover and cut each page down the middle, save the center page which was kept intact for that page spread of the story. All other pages were then matched up and carefully trimmed and taped together to create the pages of the book for the program.

My library system has a large laminating machine so I put the pages through the laminator to make them more durable (paper alone would shred and disintegrate during hard rain, something inevitable during the month of May). I also created numbers to place with the book indicating the progression through the story walk page-by-page. I also made sure to laminate the cover of the book, giving credit to the author/illustrator (in this case, Eric Carle) and publisher (HarperCollins).

Additionally, I created a "welcome" sign indicating what the program was, who was sponsoring the program, what families could do with the story trail, and the social media hashtag for any photos families took to post online.

Then it was on to the sign holders.
I did not have a ton of money so had to come up with a design that was portable and removable (for the other two sites) yet strong enough to last for the duration of the story trail (11 days for May).

The design I finally came up with was one involving a trip to Home Depot.
I purchased five large pieces of plywood and had staff cut them down into the size I needed for my signs (in this case, 36"x18", to meet the needs of all three of the books I had selected). I also purchased 1"x3" pieces of wood for the stakes as well as reinforcements in the way of metal stake holders.

I went with the green metal
stake, purchased from
Another stake option,
not nearly as strong
as the green metal.
Each wooden stake was sawed off at the bottom to create a point and then screwed onto the back of the piece of large plywood. This stake then was screwed into the metal reinforcement (metal stake) which was first placed in the ground at site. The pages of the book and sign numbers were stapled onto the plywood with a heavy duty staple gun.

Installing the story trail took about an hour to do (I used a wheelbarrow to transport 5-6 of the signs at a time with "help" hauling the metal stakes along with me). First the metal stake was pounded into the ground (it was essential that the stakes not make huge deep holes in the park
grounds). Then I took the plywood sign, used my staple gun to attach the page of the book to the front of the sign (along with the number) and the wooden sign and stake were then pounded in alongside the metal stake with a heavy mallet (owned by me). Screws were used to firmly attach the wooden stake to the metal stake and -- voila! Relatively durable and lasting (at least for 10-12 days :-)

Oops ... crooked sign
needing some tlc.
Rain storm whipped one
page completely into the
nearby field.
Once the story trail was up, I did "inspect" it almost every day. Most days were fine, no adjustments needed. The most common fix was re-stapling edges of the books to ensure that they wouldn't fly off in a wind storm. It did rain and although the pages appeared to be a bit damp where the staple holes had punctured the laminated sheet, for the most part the book
pages came through beautifully.

The perfect photo -- Mama Goose
and her goslings enjoying
the Story Trail!
Overall, a very worthy project and partnership with our parks and rec department. I'd say that between the copies of the big books and the materials (plywood, stakes, staple gun staples [I already owned a staple gun]) the library invested no more than $150-$200 in the project. Definitely worth the investment!

Future story trails will host the books "From Caterpillar to Butterfly" by Deborah Heiligman in July at a park in a more affluent community during a month when caterpillars are becoming butterflies, and "Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert in September at a much more woodsy park during the month when leaves begin to change color. Both books are available in big book format.

Sun & Moon

What lives in the sky?
What can you see at night?
What can you see during the day?

All was revealed at storytime today ...

I started with the now out-of-print book by Nancy Tafuri, "What the Sun Sees/What the Moon Sees". Kids got a big kick out of the fact that the book was a two-for-one that flipped over to tell two stories.

My second selection was one of my MOST FAVORITE STORYTIME BOOKS EVER ... "Kitten's First Full Moon". The awesome power of Kevin Henkes and his silly little kitten always make me smile ...
I shared two fingerplays, one on the sun and one on the moon.
Despite the fact that these are not one fingerplay, if presented correctly together they can make one cohesive rhyme :

Grandma Moon, Grandma Moon (make a "c" in the air with your R hand)
You're up too soon! (shake L finger at moon in the air)
The sun is still in the sky ...
Go to bed ... (head on hands, mimicking sleep)
And cover your head ... (cover head with hands)
And wait for the day to go by (twirl finger in air)
In the morning the sun wakes up (point to the left)
And marches all the day (move pointing finger up)
At noon it stands straight overhead (point directly up in the air)
And at night? It goes away ... (move finger down to other side and behind back)

Our next book was Frank Asch's "The Sun is My Favorite Star" which is always interesting to share with preschoolers ... they don't quite believe you when you tell them that our sun is actually a star ... moment of disbelief.
I got to do a DRAW AND TELL STORY (be still my heart) which I did adapt a little bit to make more understandable to preschoolers and toddlers ... but such a cute little story about mouse and the sun & moon ...

How Mouse Became Small and Grey

A long, long time ago sun and moon were in the sky
... and they became caught in a snare!

Back then, the biggest animal on earth was mouse.
So all the animals asked if mouse would go up and free the sun and moon from the snare so that earth could once again have night and day.
Mouse went up to the sky and gnawed on one side of the snare to try and free sun.
Mouse was unable to free sun and in return the hot sun burned bright and covered mouse's body with a fine grey ash.
Mouse tried to free moon by gnawing on the other side of the snare.
Mouse gnawed and chewed until finally ... the sun and moon were set free!
However, the heat from the sun burned so hot that poor mouse melted away until he was practically nothing at all.
But all the animals on earth knew what mouse had done and gave him a safe place to live on the forest floor.
And that is how mouse turned small and grey. 

This story went beautifully into my last book, "The Mouse Who Ate the Moon" by Petr Horacek.

I ended storytime with a flannel version of Frank Asch's "Happy Birthday Moon". As soon as I started one kid yelled, "oh, I know this story ..." so I had to gently shush him so he didn't give away the surprise ending!
to make into a flannel, simply make the bear, the hat, the moon and the tree.

Our take-home activity sheet was a "Talk Together" activity where kids could have a discussion about what they do during the day as opposed to the night with their caregivers.
for at-home or at-library use only

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Earth Day

Compost anyone?
Among other topics shared at storytime today was the great work that worms do to make dirt.
We read the book Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals
We also shared this flannel rhyme :

Five little worms went out to play
On a bright and sunny day,
A banana peel is what one found
And he brought it home into the ground.

Four little worms ...
a cracked eggshell
Three little worms ...
some rotten leaves
Two little worms ...
a old newspaper
One little worm ...
a used tea bag

Those five little worms dug deep in the ground,
They wiggled their bodies around and around,
They ate those kitchen scraps, munch! munch! munch!
And made some DIRT from their garbage lunch!

We also read Round As A Ball by Ernst, 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Walsh and A Leaf Can Be ... by Salas.

I shared the book What's This? by Mockford in book prop format :

We ended storytime with a rousing version of "We've got the whole world in our hands".

Our take-home activity sheet was designed to encourage writing together :
for at-home use only

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Money, Counting & Numbers

Since storytime fell only a few days before tax day, I could not resist hosting a money and number themed storytime. Here's what we shared :
Books We Shared :

Who's Counting? by Nancy Tafuri

Jenny Found a Penny by Trudy Harris
(I incorporated a jar of change and dropped money bit by bit into the jar as I read the book - works like a charm)

Two at the Zoo by Danna Smith

One Gorilla by Anthony Browne

I shared my all-time favorite, go-to rhyme for anything money, food or humor related.
It's called "Bakery Shop" and I used a donut prop plus a nickel-sized coin (actually a coin from Denmark that has a hole in it).

Here's how the song/rhyme goes:
(can be sung to the tune of "Oh I had a little chicken and she wouldn't lay an egg ...")
Oh I walked around the corner
And I walked around the block
And I walked right into
The bakery shop
And I took a donut
Right out of the grease,
And I handed the lady
A five-cent piece.
Well ... she looked at the nickel
And she looked at me,
And she said,
"Young man, you're cheating me!
There's a hole in the nickel and it goes right through!"
I said,
"There's a hole in the donut too!"
Thanks for the donut ... good-bye!

Continuing in that same theme of money/bakery shops/nickels, I shared my "Five Little Cupcakes" flannel, complete with a "man with a nickel in his hand" who "tick tocks" his way into the shop to steal a cupcake :
My final story was a book prop for Pat Brisson's "Benny's Pennies" which my library has had for many years (purchased from the now extinct site) - this is such a perfect book for a prop -- the items in question are tucked inside the pennies and are revealed as Benny purchases items for his family.

My take home activity for the week was on numeracy awareness for kids. A very simple counting sheet which incorporates the concept of money (coins) and adding up to create a certain amount of money.
For at-home use only

Friday, April 1, 2016

Rascally Rabbits

I think I do a rabbit-themed storytime every spring. There are just SO. MANY. BOOKS. published about rabbits and bunnies that it makes putting together a storytime extremely easy ... or difficult, depending on how many good titles you are able to pull together.

In my case, I left off a few of my favorites since I wanted to focus more on RABBITS as ANIMALS (not cute little stuffed animal type creatures) and since I had just presented a spring-themed storytime. Here are the titles I ended up sharing at storytime :

I adore this book ... and am very sad that it is no longer in print. I also use this book for any gardening or vegetable themed storytime.

Another out of print title ... this is a nice book for dialogic reading as the text invites children to supply the noises that the rabbit starring in this book either hears or makes himself.

This gem by Lidnsay Barrett George is another favorite of mine. I love using it for the gentle and subtle text on care of wildlife, the fantastic double-paged illustrations, and most of all the casual diversity with the Latino boy who stars in this book about a boy and his imaginary pet rabbit.

This book is a HOOT. So much fun to read (although I almost always trash my voice with the monster screaming "BUNNIES BUNNIES BUNNIES BUNNIES!!!!"). This book is very dependent on the reader, however - that's what makes this book come alive, so be prepared to put on your game face!

From a few years ago I brought out my handmade bunny finger puppets and did my "Five Little Rabbits" song to the tune of "Five Little Ducks". I had the kids keep track of the colors as the rabbits disappeared so they could tell me which rabbit had run away.

Five little rabbits one fine day
Hopped to the carrot patch far away
Mama Rabbit called them "thump! thump! thump!"
(stomp foot on the ground)
But only four came back to her stump.

Of course at the end all five rabbits come back to Mama Rabbit.

I adapted Miss Tracey's fingerplay "Five Little Stawberries" into a flannel-puppet rhyme. I love using my puppets actively to remove things from the flannelboard, and today I even had a few kids comment that "hey! that rabbit is taking away the strawberries!" Mission accomplished.

Five little strawberries
growing in a patch
Along came a rabbit
with a snatch, snatch, snatch!
He ate one strawberry
Then looked around ...
And hopped away without a sound.

My grand finale for this storytime was sort of silly ... but fun.
I "performed" (encouraged participation, but it never always works out that way) the rhyming chant "Little Bunny Foo Foo". My rabbit came out, I incorporated a mouse finger puppet, and wore a glittery tiara with a sparkly wand as I played the role of the good fairy.

At the end I had an activity sheet for families to take home if they wanted to sing/chant the rhyme at home themselves ... with fingerpuppet props.
for at home use only